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Why Is Taking Long Showers Bad for the Environment?

Taking a shower is one of our necessities but doing it in an eco-friendly way is also important. One shower can typically use up to 40 gallons of water. If you take a five-minute shower, it is equivalent to the amount of water used by 10 minutes’ worth of laundry or three toilet flushes!

Why is taking long showers bad for the environment? Taking long showers can cause unnecessary wasting of water and electricity for heating the water, leading to an increase in your utility bills.

Beyond this, however, there are many other environmental and health-related reasons why taking long showers is bad for the environment.

Water and Energy Waste

Shower On

The average American takes a shower of 7 minutes; this requires 25 gallons of water. Multiply that by the number of people in your family and you can see how much water is wasted with each shower.

The average cost to heat water in the U.S. is $0.41 per gallon, meaning that 5-minute showers would only cost around $0.17 for heated water; 10-minute showers will increase this cost four times more than what it should be!

If you stop taking long showers and decrease your shower time to 5 minutes, you can save about $60 per year!

Energy is also wasted when taking long showers; the average energy cost for heating water in the U.S. is 7 cents per gallon of water heated, meaning that your 5-minute showers will cost around $0.35 annually. This would only be 30% more than a 10-minute shower.

See Related: Solar vs Wind Energy: What’s the Difference?

How does a typical electric water heater for a hot shower affect the environment?

Hand regulate the temperature of hot water in electric water heater

The average electric heater for a hot shower uses about 3,600 watts of electricity or 7.2 kilowatt-hours per month.

One kilowatt-hour equals 1,000 watt-hours, which means that you use 72 kilowatt-hours when heating water in your hot showers monthly. This is equivalent to the energy required to run your television for three hours daily.

Burning coal can produce about 1/2 kilowatt-hours per hour of electricity; heating water in hot showers every day is equivalent to burning 20 pounds of coal each month!

This makes long showers bad not only for your water bill but also for the environment.

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Health Problems  

A person enjoying a refreshing outdoor shower in a tropical paradise.

Showering with hot water can wash away your body’s natural oils, leading to dryness of the skin and hair. It has also been linked to eczema, psoriasis, acne, and even missed periods for women. Many dermatologists recommend turning down the heat in your shower when it exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Hot showers vs cold showers

shower running in a modern house at ourendangeredworld

Cold showers are now becoming more popular due to their health benefits. While there is no exact formula on how long one should take cold showers, it is recommended that they last three minutes or less.

This helps improve blood circulation and helps the body burn fat more easily without causing any excessive stress on the heart. Elderly people can also benefit from this by increasing the number of antibodies in their blood.

Long, hot showers can cause excessive dryness, leading to more severe issues like yeast infections and secondary conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A daily dose of cold water might be able to help with these problems, as well as improve your immune system and decrease your risk of a heart attack.

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How do wasted water and electricity directly affect the environment?

Taking Long Showers

The average American family uses about 300,000 gallons of water and $300 worth of electricity each year. This is equivalent to two-thirds of the water used by a U.S. citizen or 10% of all energy consumed in your household!  

When you take a long shower, you contribute to the pollution and contamination of our natural resources. Not only can this have a direct effect on the environment you live in, but it can also contribute to global warming which has already started to affect our planet’s climate. For example, a typical gas heater releases carbon monoxide.

For example, coal produces nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide when burned at power plants; these gases are then released into the atmosphere.

When mixed with water vapor in clouds, they create acid rain that causes natural disasters such as the acidification of lakes and rivers, soil erosion, deforestation, and damage to buildings made of marble.

The water wasted from taking long showers can also affect the environment in several ways. When you leave your faucet running for extended periods during a five or ten-minute shower, you are also wasting water. When you take long showers every day, this can easily amount to 10 gallons of water wasted throughout the course of a month!

Since the majority of people in the United States live in cities or suburbs that rely on reservoirs or underground wells for fresh drinking water, it is important not to waste anything that comes out of your taps. Clean, freshwater is a precious natural resource that should be treated with care.

Remember to turn the water off while you are soaping up or shaving to conserve as much of this valuable resource as possible!

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Are there any places globally suffering from a shortage of water supply?

Rain Harvesting Water Storage
NinaMalyna / Adobe Stock

The United Nations predicts that by the year 2025, 1.8 billion people will live in areas with a lack of fresh water supply. They have also determined that more than 70% of this population growth will occur in Africa and Asia.

Nearly 40 percent of the world’s freshwater is used on crops such as coffee, tea, sugar cane, and cotton. These crops need a lot of water for irrigation and processing, so if we don’t start conserving freshwater sources, the availability of clean drinking water will likely become even scarcer in the future.

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Are there any places globally suffering from a shortage of energy supply?

Water Treatment Facility
tuastockphoto / Adobe Stock

The world is moving towards an energy crisis. Fossil fuels are nonrenewable, which means that they cannot be replenished once the supply is completely used up. The use of fossil fuels for energy accounts for around 70% of all pollution in the air today and has huge impacts on global warming. These issues have affected the planet so much that many scientists fear that we may be entering a new geological age called the Anthropocene.

The average American uses 19,000 kWh of electricity each year – almost one-fifth of all the electricity used in the United States. That means if you use 20 kWh less every day, you can save as much as $180 on your energy bill!

A typical gas heater releases carbon monoxide over its lifetime: over five years, the heater puts out 4 tons of carbon monoxide, which is 800 times more than the amount of pollution that comes out of a car every year.

The smoke released from coal-fired power plants contains sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which mix with water vapor in the clouds to form acid rain. When this type of rain falls to the ground, it affects vegetation by killing soil bacteria, fungi, insects, fish, and other aquatic organisms.

See Related: How Does Saving Water Help Climate Change?

Energy and water-saving tips

  • Turn off the water while you’re lathering up.
  • Take short showers instead of long ones.
  • Keep in mind that brushing your teeth with the water running will use about three gallons for one minute, draining the same amount one minute of showering uses.
  • Install low-flow or dual-flush toilets.
  • If you have a swimming pool, avoid over-chlorinating and look into salt-water chlorinators.
  • Use cold water for dishwashing, laundry, and other household needs whenever possible since hot water requires more energy to heat than cold water does.
  • Programmable thermostats let you keep your house cool in the summer by using less energy when you are away or asleep at night.
  • Install a pool cover to reduce evaporation.

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Taking a shower is already part of our daily lives but taking long showers uses up valuable resources. A typical American shower of 10 minutes uses more than 20 gallons of water, about three times as much as an 8-minute shower at an average usage rate.

Water is scarce in many parts of the world and conserving it helps everyone share this resource more equally. 

The addition of steam from a hot bath or shower to the atmosphere is just one source that contributes to greenhouse gases, which drive climate change problems like rising sea levels, drought, warming temperatures, and extreme weather.

A typical electric water heater also takes energy to warm water. Taking a cold shower sometimes will be environmentally friendly and healthy. Taking quick showers will save water and consume less energy and decrease environmental impact.

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